Last night they read chapter two in Tom Sawyer, with the famous whitewashing scene. The “steamboat” kid was a topic of questions today. Ben Rogers is the first of Tom’s victims.

“What was that two pages of  noises? What is up with that kid…?

“He was pretending to be a steamboat, you know, swinging his arms around like the big paddle wheels, and making all the bell and steam noises, and also pretending to be the captain giving all the orders.”

I start “steaming” around the room to demonstrate, amid general laughter and such. The general feeling is that he’s a geek for acting like a little kid. One girl though, amid the laughter admits,

“I still do stuff like that too.”

A few others sheepishly admit to still doing some playacting and pretending.

Then Big Joe strikes a professorial pose, stroking his chin, and says,

“I’m sure we’ve all wanted to be a steamboat at one time or another.”

Yes indeed.

In another class they still thought he was being silly.

“OK. It’s 1835 or 40. No electricity, no recorded music of any kind, no toys to speak of, not even running water in the house! Your town has maybe 200 people in it, and you’re out in the boonies. What else are you going to do for fun?”

“Draw in the dirt with a stick!”

“Exactly. You take your fun where you get it. You make your fun.”

“Well, I would dance!”

“To what? You’d have to get someone who plays an instrument to come over and play while you dance around.”

“I would dance to the music in my head.”

I’m sure you would.